New Delhi: The UK-based Carphone Warehouse Group Plc., Europe’s leading retailer of mobile phones and services, will set up a subsidiary in India early next month.
“Carphone’s subsidiary in India, expected to be live early next month, will be responsible for providing customer support to customers of Carphone’s two leading brands in UK—AOL Broadband and Talk Talk,” said Joris Heeze, head of the offshore operations for AOL Broadband.
Carphone Warehouse bought AOL (UK) Ltd, a subsidiary of AOL Llc., formerly America Online, an Internet services and media company operated by Time Warner Inc., in December 2006. AOL UK is known as AOL Broadband to distinguish it from its US parent.
Support staff: A Carphone Warehouse shop in London, UK. The firm’s subsidiary in India is expected to be operational early next month.
The subsidiary, likely to be called Carphone Warehouse India Ltd, will directly employ 25-30 people in the country in the next 12 months and will be based either in Mumbai or New Delhi. “It’s still early stages and we are yet to finalize details.”
While Heeze will head the AOL Broadband business of Carphone from New Delhi, another team will be put in place to work on the Talk Talk brand. “A direct presence in India will ensure we can manage our partnerships better here and have more insight into day-to-day happenings,” he said.
Carphone Warehouse’s plan to set up a subsidiary in India comes a week after US-based AOL decided to exit the country by selling its more than 1,000-people Bangalore call centre operations to Aegis BPO Services Ltd, the back-office unit of Indian conglomerate Essar Group.
Although AOL US has closed shop in the country, other companies such as AOL Broadband, Yahoo Inc. and Google Inc. “will not want to shirk out of the Indian telecom and Internet market, which is the future emerging market. A presence in countries such as India and China is important in the wake of a slowdown in the US and UK economies,” said T.S. Madan Mohan, vice-president and country manager of business and industrial research division, or Bird, of marketresearch firm IMRB International.
AOL Broadband has four offshore contact centres worldwide employing around 3,000 people, of which three are in Bangalore, Mumbai and New Delhi. Its 2,500 people in India are employed by AOL Broadband’s outsourcing partners such as Wipro BPO, the business process outsourcing arm of Wipro Ltd, contact centre provider Sitel India Ltd, back-office firm Firstsource Solutions Ltd and IT-enabled services firm InfoVision Group. Around 900 people at Wipro BPO work for AOL Broadband in India.
Its contact centres in India offer customer support to AOL Broadband customers through new customer registrations, general customer service enquiries, technical support, back-office operations and customer retention.
AOL Broadband is a leading online interactive services provider based in Waterford, Ireland and offers its 2.3 million customers, services such as dial up, broadband, telephony, as well as content.
“This is the right time to enter India’s Internet (servicing) business, and being here through a subsidiary will enable them to have operational control over its people here and have better service levels than its outsourcing partners,” said Balendu Shrivastava, group business director at Bird’s eTechnology group.
“India is important to us. In the last six months, our return to investments have been higher and we have had higher levels of engagement with our partners,” Heeze said.
International audit, tax, consulting and financial advisory firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu is helping AOL Broadband set up the subsidiary in India. However, a Deloitte Touche India spokesperson declined to comment on the matter citing client confidentiality.